Having attracted 5,000 participants, this year's edition of the TOOLEX International Trade Fair for Machine Tools, Tools and Processing Technologies has ended in Katowice. During the fair, nearly 150 exhibitors representing 8 countries exhibited state-of-the-art solutions for the metalworking industry. The first day of the fair reach its culmination with a gala at which the winners of The Best of Industry 4.0 competition, promoting the most interesting technologies, trends and implementations in Poland’s Industry 4.0, were awarded. However, representatives of the industry gathered at the International Congress Centre insisted that the current volatile market renders predicting the future economic situation considerably difficult. Economic transformation, in their view, is another significant trend that will effect changes in operations of businesses developing solutions for traditional industries.
Among the exhibitors of TOOLEX 2023 were organisations specializing in metalworking, cutting tools, process fluids, industrial metrology, occupational health and safety, maintenance, pneumatics, hydraulics, bearings, drive components, and software for the industry. There was a vast pool of specialists among the several thousand attendees of the three-day event, including CNC operators, programmers, quality controllers, maintenance engineers, production workers and managers of major Polish and foreign companies operating in the sector.
Representatives of the industry believe that the the transformation of the industry structure is the biggest challenges they are currently facing. Sectors associated with the green revolution, such as the renewable energy industry, are gaining on importance, replacing the previously traditionally dominant automotive and aviation sectors. Due to this strategic shift, companies need to adapt to the new market conditions.
“Until a few years ago, the automotive or aerospace industry were our main markets. They suffered tremendously during the pandemic, and although the market recovered afterwards, the greatest prospects are currently associated with the alternative industry and renewable energy sources. Of course, we are also interested in this field of activity. We are present in practically every area of utility production," points out Andrzej Rudenko of Arco Tools.
At the same time, according to the industry, the expectations of customers have become much more specific as far as the use of the solutions provided to them goes. They have grown more demanding, posing increasing challenges to manufacturers, as they seek to optimize production.
Most often, exhibitors claim artificial intelligence to be capable of optimally using raw materials and accelerating manufacturing processes to a degree that was, until recently, unattainable within conventional means. Software and controllers, allowing to harness the potential of machines and implement more advanced production tasks, play a vital role.
“Customers expect solutions that accelerate their processes, thus giving them the edge in this challenging reality,” adds Marcin Antosiewicz, technical director at CAMdivision.
Another challenge facing the industry is the current economic volatility. The attendees of TOOLEX 2023 concluded that, among other factors, the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine has a significant negative impact on their operation. Uncertain future renders making any key decisions considerably difficult.
“Currently, predicting what the next few years will look like and which direction the economy will head remains the biggest challenge.Most of the machines we currently sell are from stock. Customers need machines on an ad hoc basis, due to, for example, recently concluded contracts and the need to retrofit their machinery”, says Piotr Jakubowski, sales engineer at MACHINE TOOLS INTERNATIONAL.
The last day of the fair attracted many young people. Students from technical schools arrived at the fair in droves, visiting the exhibition booths, a fact much appreciated by the exhibitors.
“I believe that in addition to the possibility of maintaining relationships with customers and partners, as well as looking for inspiration, which has always been the essence of trade shows, the fact that schools and the youth are interested in the offer of the exhibitors is particularly positive. We are optimistic seeing their interest in what the machine tool, tooling and accompanying software industry have to offer. This proves that young people are becoming more serious about their professional future. I am saying this in the context of the prevailing shortage of talent, also in this industry. This is not a new problem and it is difficult to solve it quickly, so any initiative encouraging young people to take an interest in a sector where they can excel professionally is valuable. This is definitely an advantage of TOOLEX 2023," says Karolina Mizeracka of DPS Software.
This opinion is shared by Jozef Skowrodko, director of CAM solutions at DPS Software.
“Understaffing is a major challenge faced by our business partners.. We support them by training their employees in becoming as efficient as possible in the shortest possible time. The time needed to train a new specialist is vital and companies are investing a lot in this capacity. The human factor remains a significant element of success," the DPS Software representative concludes.
The International Trade Fair of Machine Tools, Tools and Processing Technology TOOLEX
“saw the final of “The Best of Industry 4.0” competition. The nominated companies and solutions were judged, as in last year's edition, in two categories: manufacturing plant and technology. Among the winners of the initiative aimed at promoting the best innovative solutions related to the sector were: Danone (digital transformation of Nutricia manufacturing plant in Opole), PepsiCo (plant in Świętem near Środa Slaska), Fakro factory in Nowy Sacz and Volkswagen Poznań (plant in Września) – in the manufacturing plant category and also Energy Advisor from Transition Technologies PSC, Snarto – an innovative logistics solution based on a proprietary AI engine, Solwena's Percee System, Digital Twin – a solution by Siemens for Wikpol, AT Trace – a traceability system from Automationstechnik, and Aformic – Intelligent Intralogistics Platform from AIUT – awarded in the technology category.
“For industry to grow, to be competitive, it needs to adopt the latest technologies, use artificial intelligence, implement autonomous devices and robots. “It must also be energy-efficient and environmentally and climate friendly. Today, we are presenting innovative technologies and leading production facilities," said Wojciech Kuśpik, president of the PTWP Group, publisher of the WNP.PL portal, during the award gala.
“Being innovative, modern, and launching new solutions, especially in the difficult times of today, requires a lot of determination. And for this, we owe to the winners special congratulations," stressed Rafal Kerger, editor-in-chief of WNP.PL.
“TOOLEX is not just a platform for exhibiting the latest technological developments. Above all, it is a space where experts have the opportunity to share their insights and knowledge. We believe that it is this exchange of ideas and experiences that is the engine driving the future of the industry. As organizers, we are happy to be able to support business in its development," concluded Agnieszka Miklas, director of the expo department of PTWP Group.
The TOOLEX trade fair was accompanied by the New Industry 4.0 conference, a debate among numerous experts, executives of industrial and manufacturing companies and academics, resulting in a number of conclusions that influence the present and future of Polish industry. The third day of the event also featured an Environmental Tribologists' Seminar, and an integral part of the fair was the OILexpo, the Showroom Exhibition of Lubricants, Greases and Process Fluids for Industry.
The TOOLEX International Trade Fair of Machine Tools, Tools and Processing Technologies was organized by the PTWP Group, publisher of the WNP.pl portal and organizer of such events as the European Economic Congress, the ExpoWELDING International Welding Fair and 4 Design Days.